The Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 started a worldwide Convention directed towards the Conservation of Biodiversity. It is now widely recognised that action to conserve species is not just a governmental responsibility, but that we can all play our part. Conservation of biodiversity is a key target at all levels, from global, to national and local levels, with county and city action plans developed to conserve the flora and fauna within their administrative areas. However all these plans require baseline information on the distribution of species, as this information contributes to our decision on whether a species is threatened or common.

The Conchological Society’s recording schemes provide one part, an extremely significant part, of the evidence used by the conservation agencies and local authorities to understand whether there is a mollusc in their area that needs conservation action. However, in the last two decades recording effort has become more focussed on documenting the rare species, as these were the species requiring urgent action. As a consequence, there is relatively little recent data within the census schemes on the common species. There are some species that may well be in decline, due to changing land management practices, changing climate or pollution as well as species that are increasing their range with changing habitats and even recent invasions from further a field. It is disappointing, therefore, that there is insufficient data within the NBN system to recognise the widespread but declining species reliably, and we are left with using partial data where we identify a trend based on one area, and then extrapolate to other regions, based primarily on habitat decline information. This is not satisfactory and it underlines the need for good baseline data from our census schemes. In this electronic age, it is to be hoped that the rapid ability to supply data will make the recorder feel that their area is worthy of recording on a regular basis. The identification dilemmas can be partly resolved by digital camera pictures which can be passed around the recording community using e-mail, showing newly recorded species or unusual species that require comment.

Many of Britain’s wild plants and animals are legally protected. There are different types of laws, ranging from European Directives, National Acts and local bylaws. The main law dealing with wildlife conservation now is the National Environments and Rural Communities Act 2006. This has fifty-six habitats and 943 species of principal importance included on the Section 41 list. In addition the earlier Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) Schedule 5 lists protected Molluscs (see below). Schedule 5 is revised every five years and the fourth of these ‘quinquennial reviews’ is currently being carried out (2008/9). With certain exceptions and exemptions, it is an offence (without a licence) to: 

  • intentionally to take animals listed on Schedule 5 from the wild 
  • intentionally to kill or injure these wild animals
  • to possess any of these wild animals (live or dead, including all stages: or any part or derivative of them ( e.g. shells, pearls)  
  • intentionally or (in England and Wales) recklessly to damage, destroy or obstruct the places these animals use for shelter and protection. 


Atrina fragilis Fan mussel Killing, injuring & taking S. 9(1), possession S. 9(2), sale S 9(5) 1998
Caecum amoricum De Folin's lagoon snail Full protection 1992

Quickella arenaria

syn. Catinella arenaria Sandbowl snail

Full protection 1981
Margaritifera margaritifera Pearl mussel Full protection (previously killing & injuring) 1998
Myxas glutinosa Glutinous snail Full protection 1981
Paludinella littoria Lagoon snail Full protection 1992
Tenellia adspersa Lagoon sea slug Full protection 1992
Thyasira gouldi Northern hatchet-shell Full protection 1992